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Saturday, February 24, 2024

Cal Aggie Camp looking for student volunteers

Cal Aggie Camp is currently looking for volunteers as camp counselors, cooks, medics, or life guards for its July 8 to 21 summer camp.

Cal Aggie Camp is a two-week summer camp for foster and inner-city youth in the greater Sacramento area. The camp is at Camp Gold Hollow in Nevada City, according to camp director Madelaine Soriano, known as “Tink” at Cal Aggie Camp.

As an ASUCD unit, Cal Aggie Camp receives subsidies from ASUCD, and students pay $0.50 per quarter from their student fees.

Founded in 1961 by UC Davis students, Cal Aggie Camp is ASUCD’s only philanthropy, and aims to create an unforgettable summer camp experience for underprivileged youth in the Yolo County area. Cal Aggie camp draws approximately 200 kids each year, according to Cal Aggie Camp Co-Director Jennifer Reick.

“Cal Aggie is near and dear to my heart, and this is my 13th year being a part of it. Most kids that attend camp are in the foster care system or are living in non-traditional family situations.  Camp is truly an opportunity for kids to get away from their everyday life and just enjoy a week being a kid.”  Reick said.

Campers are divided in two groups by age; five to 12 year-olds attend the first week, and 13 to 17 year-olds attend the second, Soriano said.

“Counselors are teamed up with one or two other co-counselors and are in charge of a cabin of eight to 10 campers. They also sign up for one trail activity to lead everyday, so they’re definitely not just limited to their respective campers. A lot of camp is not set in stone, so we always look to our counselors to bring in new ideas and trails that the campers will enjoy.” Soriano said.

In addition to interacting with and providing campers with an exciting camp experience, counselors have the opportunity to partake in leadership-based tasks by leading trails and bringing forth new camp ideas (arts and crafts, trails, etc.) primarily for the enjoyment of their respective campers.

Cal Aggie Camp counselor Dale Arvy Maglalang emphasizes that Camp counselors are extremely flexible, and, moreover, are provided with a great deal of responsibility given that counselors assume roles beyond “typical” camp counselor expectations.

“There is a lot of flexibility that we, as counselors, have in camp. For example, we’re always welcome to lead our own trails; some counselors have done trails on yoga, nature walks, dance workshops, etc. Moreover, we’re always welcome to bring our own camp songs, skits and other activities for the campers. For many of the returning counselors, we’re always asked about possible themes for camp and we’re also asked to sit in the hiring committee of prospective counselors for next year.”  Maglalang said.

Camp counselors add to the fun-loving atmosphere at Cal Aggie Camp by assuming camp names, in an effort to provide campers with a safe, exciting environment meant to relieve foster children of day-to-day challenges and experience being a kid, emphasized Maglalang and camp counselor Jenny Choc.

Counselors rave about their individual experiences at Cal Aggie Camp, and even state that they wish they could continue their efforts at Cal Aggie Camp for forever, in Choc’s view.

“By the end of camp I realized that I ended up gaining so much from the campers. I remember thinking when we dropped off the kids that I wanted them to all come back next year and every year after that so I could see them grow and be part of something this big,”  Choc said.

Counselors emphasize their diverse styles and always maintain a positive and goofy outlook with campers, no matter how embarrassing.

“The primary goal of Cal Aggie Camp is to provide underprivileged youth with the opportunity to not only experience the outdoors, but also to have an amazing week to forget about all the possible troubles they may be experiencing at home.” said camp counselor Melissa Huynh.

Reick said that being a camp counselor was extremely rewarding.

“Prospective staffers should love kids, be enthusiastic, creative and willing to make a difference in a kid’s life. The campers often teach their counselors just as much as the counselors teach the kids. It is definitely a life-changing experience that won’t be forgotten.” Reick said .

Maglalang agreed.

“Being a Cal Aggie Camp counselor is one of the most defining moments in my college experience so far, spending two weeks with the campers and my fellow counselors in the middle of the woods with no cell phone reception, internet and other technology made me realize how society takes for granted face-to-face interaction. Getting to know the campers and providing a safe space for them to escape reality is worth every mosquito bite,”  Maglalang said.

Applications are due on March 25. Applications are available in the third floor of the MU.

Questions can be directed to Madelaine Soriano at mmsoriano@ucdavis.edu.

GHEED SAEED can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.

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